Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)

City news, briefly

A look at discussions and decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its April 25 meeting.

Remembering a community builder

A former Whitehorse city councillor was remembered by the current council for his substantial contributions to both his community and the territory.

Before the formal April 25 council meeting got underway, Mayor Laura Cabott paid tribute to Gerry Thick, who passed away April 15 at the age of 77.

Thick served two terms as a councillor beginning in 1986 until 1991.

Many remember Thick for his deep passion for sports and his extensive involvement in the sporting community in the territory, Cabott said.

“Jerry was heavily involved in Yukon amateur sports for over 30 years and he was especially dedicated to youth sports,” she said. “He really believed in the power that sports have and how much they can teach you about life.”

Thick served on the Arctic Winter Games international committee for 29 years, with 19 of those years as president. Cabott also pointed out Thick was a key figure in getting the Pepsi Softball Centre in the Takhini neighbourhood opened in 1983 and was inducted into the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame as a builder in 1996.

“I just want to acknowledge all the fantastic work that Gerry did for this community, for the City of Whitehorse, for the Yukon, for all those athletes across the North.”

Sport Yukon also highlighted Thick’s contributions. In a statement, the organization said he quickly became involved in the sporting community after arriving in Whitehorse in 1966.

Along with his contributions to the Arctic Winter Games, softball and more, Thick is also remembered for his own skills on the field and on the ice.

As Sport Yukon reported, he was the first player/coach of the first Yukon men’s softball team to win silver at the Western Canadian Softball Championships, an honour that saw him named Yukon Coach of the Year in 1984.

He also organized the Yukon’s first senior AAA hockey team, working diligently to fill the rink on many cold winter nights in Whitehorse, it was noted.

Thick served on the board of Sport Yukon in the 1980s and has also been remembered as a strong supporter of the Kids Recreation Fund, a program that provides funding to families so kids can take part in recreational activities.

Priorities established

Whitehorse city council has established six key priorities it will focus on to the end of its term in 2024.

Council voted to adopt the 13-page strategic priorities document at its April 25 meeting.

The established priorities include housing and development; engagement and collaboration; inclusivity, accessibility and diversity; community safety; climate change and adaptation; and service excellence.

Interim city manager Jeff O’Farrell stated at an earlier meeting that new councils (such as this council elected in October) typically identify strategic priorities in their first few months of a term. The priorities identified give direction to city staff.

Before voting in favour of adopting the document, a number of council members emphasized the importance of the priorities and noted the work and discussions that went into establishing them.

As Coun. Michelle Friesen put it: “I’m looking forward to more of those conversations as we move through our term and just building a better city for everyone who calls Whitehorse home.”

Repairs planned

The City of Whitehorse will add another $115,000 to the budget for repair work to the city’s sewer system.

Meanwhile, a project to improve the Arkell storm outfall has been cancelled to ensure money is available for the sewer system repairs.

At Whitehorse city council’s April 25 meeting, members approved the budget amendment and cancellation of the Arkell project.

As city engineering manager Taylor Eshpeter explained, when rehabilitation work was done to the Marwell lift station in 2017/2018, it was found a section of pipe from the lift station to the new valve chamber was in poor condition, with an engineering consultant confirming it should be replaced as soon as possible. A bypass system was installed as part of the 2018 rehabilitation work in an effort to make replacing the piping easier.

The repair work was initially tendered in 2020 with just one bid received that was over budget. It was then delayed until 2021 to look at combining it with other work the city was planning in the area. That work has since been put off until 2023.

The repair work was then tendered again in December 2021 with no bids received, only to be retendered yet again with just one bid coming in at $365,895 — more than $140,000 over the $213,000 budget.

Efforts were made to look at alternative materials for the piping that could reduce the cost with a welded pipe, rather than seamless, bringing the cost down by $32,000.

While council members indicated they would also be willing to approve the funding for a seamless pipe, they ultimately voted in favour of the recommendation that budgets for the welded pipe.

Spring rec grants approved

A total of 31 organizations will receive a combined $141,600 after Whitehorse city council voted to dole out the city’s spring recreation grants.

Council approved the spring intake for the annual grants, available to groups providing recreational programs and opportunities, at its April 25 meeting.

All 31 applicants were recommended for all or at least a portion of the amount they applied for.

“Where funding recommendations do not reflect the full amount of funding requests, it is because certain elements of an application may be fundable under another program, or it is reflective of the condition of the application, or there are insufficient grant funds to full cover the request,” it was noted in an earlier report to council.

The largest grants will see $7,000 go to each the Alpine Ski Association for a new deck; Gwaandak Theatre Society for its Indigenous Summer Play Readings; Larrikin Entertainment Ensemble for a theatrical production of Blocked! the musical; Music Yukon for its Arts in the Park series of performances; the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre for facility fees, administration and advertising; the Yukon Arts Centre for its Youth Arts, Education and Transportation Program; Yukon Music Camp for its 2022 camp; Yukon Transportation Museum Society to explore post-pandemic programming for the Alaska Highway 80th anniversary; and the Yukon Invasive Species Council for signage and materials.

The smallest grant of $750 will go to Boreal Adventure Running for operational support of the Yukon River Trail Marathon in August.

The next recreation grant intake will be for fall grants in September.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council